Land, Language and Migration: World War II Evacuees as New Speakers of Scottish Gaelic

  • Cassie Smith-Christmas


This chapter explores what it terms a ‘liminal’ category of new speaker: World War II evacuees to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Situated in life narrative interviews, the chapter examines why some evacuees acquired Scottish Gaelic and others did not; and also why some new speakers positioned themselves as ‘learners’ despite being socialised in the language in the home as children. The chapter concludes by tying these discussions to conceptions of the relationship of language to place; and in particular, to conceptions of place as embedded in a sociohistorical trajectory of disenfranchisement.


Evacuees Scottish Gaelic Language socialisation Language ideologies 


  1. Abrams, L. (1998). The Orphan Country. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, T. C. (2013). “Why Won’t You Speak to Me in Gaelic?” Authenticity, Integration, and the Heritage Language Learning Project. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12(5), 340–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, M. (2014). Eilean Uaine Thiriodh: Beatha, Òrain agus Ceòl Ethel NicChaluim. Ochertyre: Grace Note Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Boyle, P. (1997). Contrasting English and Scottish Residents in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Scottish Geographical Magazine, 113, 98–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Course, M. (2011). Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile. Baltimore: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  6. Damer, S. (2000). Scotland in Miniature? Second homes on Arran. Scottish Affairs, 31(1), 37–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dauenhauer, N. M., & Dauenhauer, R. (1998). Technical, Emotional, and Ideological Issues in Reversing Language Shift: Examples from Southeast Alaska. In L. A. Grenoble & L. J. Whaley (Eds.), Endangered Languages: Current Issues and Future Prospects (pp. 57–116). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Devine, T. M. (1994). Clanship to Crofter’s War: The Social Transformation of the Scottish Highlands. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dorian, N. C. (1981). Language Death: The Life Cycle of a Scottish Gaelic Dialect. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Forsythe, D. E. (1980). Urban Incomers and Rural Change: The Impact of Migrants from the City on Life in an Orkney Community. Sociologia Ruralis, 20(4), 287–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Haugen, E. (1966). Dialect, Language, Nation. American Anthropologist, 68(4), 922–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jedrej, C., & Nuttall, M. (1996). White Settlers: The Impact of Rural Repopulation in Scotland. Luxembourg: Harwood Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. King, K. A. (2000). Language Ideologies and Heritage Language Education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 3(3), 167–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kulick, D. (1992). Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction: Socialization, Self, and Syncretism in a Papua New Guinean Village. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Labov, W. (1972). The Study of Language in its Social Context. Studium Generale, 23, 30–87.Google Scholar
  16. MacCaluim, A. (2007). Reversing Language Shift: The Social Identity and Role of Adult Learners of Scottish Gaelic. Belfast: Cló Ollscoil na Banríona.Google Scholar
  17. MacKinnon, K. (1991). Gaelic: A Past and Future Prospect. Edinburgh: Saltire Society.Google Scholar
  18. McEwan-Fujita, E. (2010). Ideology, Affect, and Socialization in Language Shift and Revitalization: The Experiences of Adults Learning Gaelic in the Western Isles of Scotland. Language in Society, 39(1), 27–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McLeod, W. (2015). The Issue of Dialectal Diversity in Contemporary Gaelic: Perceptions, Discourses, and Responses. In 15th International Congress of Celtic Studies, University of Glasgow.Google Scholar
  20. McLeod, W., O’Rourke, B., & Dunmore, S. (2014). “New” Speakers of Gaelic in Edinburgh and Glasgow: Report for Soillse. Glasgow: Soillse. Available at: Speakers Final Report_2_2.pdf
  21. Meakins, F. (2008). Land, Language and Identity: The Socio-Political Origins of Gurindji Kriol. In M. Meyerhoff & N. Nagy (Eds.), Social Lives in Language – Sociolinguistics and Multilingual Speech Communities (pp. 69–94). Amsterdam: John Benjaminss.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Munro, G., Taylor, I., & Armstrong, T. (2011). The State of Gaelic in Shawbost. Retrieved from state of Gaelic in Shawbost.pdf
  23. Myhill, J. (1999). Identity, Territoriality and Minority Language Survival. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 20(1), 34–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Records of Scotland. (2013, September 26). Scotland’s Census 2011. Shaping Our Future. Release 2A.
  25. O’ Rourke, B., Pujolar, J., & Ramallo, F. (2015). New Speakers of Minority Languages: The Challenging Opportunity – Foreword. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 231, 1–20.Google Scholar
  26. Oliver, J. (2006). Where is Gaelic? Revitalisation, Language, Culture, and Identity. In W. McLeod (Ed.), Revitalising Gaelic in Scotland (pp. 155–168). Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Ray, L. (2007). Language of the Land: The Mapuche in Argentina and Chile. Copenhagen: IWGIA.Google Scholar
  28. Silverstein, M. (1979). Language Structure and Linguistic Ideology. In R. Clyne, W. Hanks, & C. Hofbauer (Eds.), The Elements: A Parasession on Linguistic Units and Levels (pp. 193–247). Chicago: Chicago Linguistics Society.Google Scholar
  29. Smith-Christmas, C. (2014). Language and Integration: Migration to Gaelic-Speaking Areas in the Twenty-First Century. Report for Soillse. Glasgow: Soillse. Available at:
  30. Smith-Christmas, C., & Armstrong, T. C. (2014). Complementary RLS Strategies in Education: The Importance of Adult Heritage Learners of Threatened Minority Languages. Current Issues in Language Planning, 15(3), 312–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Spolsky, B. (1991). Hebrew Language Revitalization within a General Theory of Second Language Learning. In R. L. Cooper & B. Spolsky (Eds.), Influence of Language on Culture and Thought: Essays in Honour of James A. Fishman’s 65th Birthday (pp. 137–156). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  32. Stockdale, A., MacGregor, B., & Munro, G. (2003). Migration, Gaelic-Medium Education and Language Use. Isle of Skye: Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.Google Scholar
  33. Wells, G. (2011). Perceptions of Gaelic Learning and Use in a Bilingual Island Community: An Exploratory Study. Isle of Skye: Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.Google Scholar
  34. Will, V. (2012). “Why Kenny Can’t Can”: The Language Socialization Experiences of Gaelic-Medium Educated Children in Scotland (Unpublished PhD Thesis). University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  35. Withers, C. W. (1984). Gaelic in Scotland 1698–1981. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Withers, C. W. (1988). Gaelic Scotland: The Transformation of a Culture Region. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Wolf, G. (2007). Language Contact, Change of Language Status – “Celtic” National Languages in the British Isles and Ireland. In H. C. Tristam (Ed.), The Celtic Languages in Contact: Papers from the Workshop Within the Framework of the XIII International Conference of Celtic Studies (pp. 315–336). Potsdam: Potsdam University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Woolard, K. (2008). Language and Identity Choice in Catalonia: The Interplay of Contrasting Ideologies of Linguistic Authority. In K. Süselbeck, U. Mühlschlegel, & P. Masson (Eds.), Lengua, Nación e Identidad: La Regulación del Plurilingüismo en España y América Latina (pp. 303–333). Vervuert/Madrid: Iberoamericana.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cassie Smith-Christmas
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Culture and CommunicationUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

Personalised recommendations